Where to buy your Chinese phone? Reseller or Distributor?

oppo n3 review

There was once a time that you could only buy a Chinese phone through an online reseller, but with the popularity of Chinese phones more local distributors have set up, so which is better for the customer?

When buying a Chinese phone you have a lot of big choices to make. First of all you need to choose the Chinese Android phone which suits your requirements, and then you need to choose where to buy the phone from.

There are generally only 3 choices where to buy your Chinese phone from and they are 1) Through an online reseller, 2) Through the manufactures store, 3) Through a local distributor.

As far as we know only Oppo, OnePlus, Meizu and Xiaomi offer their phones through their own stores outside of China, so we will focus on resellers and distributors for this article.

What is a reseller?

Xiaomi shop
Xiaomishop are a great choice for Xiaomi devices. Their main store is in China, but they can also ship a few items from Europe.

A reseller is what we call an online store which deals in a huge number of Chinese phones, tablets, and accessories. Some resellers will specialise in just a single product or brand, while others will sell everything from phones to wedding dresses. Resellers will usually work with smaller Chinese phone makers, and also buy phones when they go on flash sale in China only, then resell them internationally.

What is a local distributor?


topreseller store
Despite the name Topreseller Store are based in Italy and work directly with many Chinese phone makers. They offer 24 month warranty and great aftersales.

A local distributor is a company located in your home country (or close) who have an official partnership with a manufacturer to sell their phones.

Advantages and Disadvantages

There are advantages and disadvantages with either option you choose, but choose wisely and you will come out with the best deal and phone.

Buying from a reseller


  • They get the latest phones in stock before distributors.
  • Phone prices are usually cheaper.
  • Some resellers work with the manufacturer so you still have a warranty.
  • A huge choice of phones to choose from.
  • Convenient online purchase.


  • Hidden costs can significantly increase costs e.g shipping, import tax.
  • Cost of shipping if you need to return the device for warranty.
  • Shipping delays
  • Customs
  • Issues in the past with dishonest resellers can make buying from China a risk.

Buying from a local distributor


  • Warranty
  • Low/Free shipping
  • Fast shipping
  • Less chance of hidden costs.
  • Ease of communication through language and also the time difference.
  • Ease of return for warranty and repair.
  • Possibility of visiting a physical store and trying before you buy.
  • Less chance of disappearing over night.


  • Much higher price
  • Still a chance of delay if they need to send your phone back to China for warranty

Where to buy your Chinese phone from? Resellers or Distributors

There is a lot to take in to consideration here. Although it looks like you can get the most benefit from buying from a local distributor you also have a chance of getting the same service from a reseller, but it is more of a gamble. We know of European Chinese phone fans who are able to buy their phones with free shipping and no customs tax and have no issues with the device, then again there are some customers who have had to pay customs and shipping, and then suffered more time and cost with having to return the phone. Buying from a reseller is more of a gamble, but if you do your research you can save money and not worry about after sales service.

Buying from a distributor is the less risky option but it also costs a lot more too. For example we have seen the JiaYu S3 on sale from Chinese resellers at only $179 while EU based distributors charge $255. The $76 difference isn’t all going in the pocket of the store though, it covers VAT, shipping from China, shipping to the customer, initial customs and cost of after sales service, the actual profit is very little.

The GizChina team use a mixture of good reliable resellers and distributors depending on the phones we choose to buy.

There really is no simple answer to the question of where to buy. Just remember that putting in as much research on where to buy might save you as much time and money as researching what to buy.

Poll: Where do you buy your Chinese phones from?

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Take the poll and feel free to name and shame the stores you have used in the comments below:

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